(810) 750-1996 PH
Fenton Fitness (810) 750-0351 PH
Fenton Physical Therapy (810) 750-1996 PH
Linden Physical Therapy (810) 735-0010 PH
Milford Physical Therapy (248) 685-7272 PH

Learn more about Rehab, Sports Medicine & Performance

home

Will That Machine Help Me?

Home Gym Hints

Television ads, holiday gift giving, and the return of frigid temperatures brings out the “What cardio machine should I purchase for my home?” question.  Is it the bike with an internet trainer, the fat blasting high intensity elliptical trainer, or the Euro designed Nordic ski machine?  Many of these units sell for over $3000 and they wish to choose wisely.  Most of the questioners have no experience with any of these gizmos.  I have some pre-purchase questions they need to answer before buying that expensive cardio machine.

Can you currently walk for thirty minutes without stopping to rest?

If you answer no to that question, do not bother purchasing a treadmill, bike, or elliptical unit.  Focus all of your efforts on developing the strength and skill necessary to walk for thirty minutes without resting.  If pain is a limitation, get to the physical therapy clinic and resolve the problem.  Walking is the essential neuromuscular activity that keeps a body healthy and out of the assisted living center.  Leaning over on a treadmill, elliptical trainer, or recumbent bike is very likely to worsen those walking woes.

Do you have a prior history of consistent exercise?

Just owning a new high-tech training machine will not make you thinner or fitter.  You must use the machine three or four days a week for the next year.  Many people believe that locating the machine in the dwelling will jump-start the exercise habit.  If you answer no to this question, I have concerns that you will not develop a relationship with your internet connected mechanical friend.

Is fat loss the primary reason you are purchasing the home exercise machine?

The fat loss the exercise motto everyone needs to learn is; “familiarity breeds failure”.   The human body is a master at adapting to a physical stress and the forty-five minute spin class that burns 440 calories in February only consumes 180 calories in August.  The sad truth is that the same amount of exercise time and effort produces a weaker fat loss response.   The crucial components for fat loss are long duration meal preparation and high intensity portion awareness.  After you get those under control, progress to activities that you find challenging (difficult, not good at, loath, hate) and change the training modality on a frequent basis.  Using the same exercise device month after month will not produce optimal results.

Michael O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

A $2500 Coat Rack

I have been in the physical therapy and rehab business since 1984.   I have learned many things about training consistency and fitness equipment.  Expensive fitness gadgets have an average utilization life of two months.  This is an updated version of an often requested article on my recommendations for home exercise equipment.  These are the holiday fitness gift ideas that keep giving.

A physical therapy patient of mine recently brought in an article that discussed the merits of different types of exercise equipment you can purchase for your home.  She wanted my advice on the piece of machinery I would recommend for her and her husband to use at home.  Should they get a $1600.00 elliptical machine, a $2500.00 treadmill, or $1100.00 recumbent bike?  My answer was that none of these machines are a good idea as most cardio machines become an expensive coat rack in less than four months.  If you are starting out on a fitness program and wish to be successful, my suggestion is to invest in the following:

Note Pad and Pen: $10.00
In advance, you will write out your monthly “plan of exercise action”.  Set down the date, time, place, and exercise activity.  The written plan is a commitment to stay on schedule.  Record your exercise sessions in a training log.  Write out the exercises you perform, the number of sets, repetitions, and loads.  The training log will help reinforce the single most important component of fitness–consistency.

Tape Measure: $1.00
A good exercise program is going to increase your muscle mass, reduce body fat, and add some bone to your skeleton.   In the beginning, the numbers on the scale may go up instead of down and this can frustrate fitness newbies looking to “drop twenty pound in four weeks”.  Put the bathroom scale away and record girth measurements.  Men should measure around the belly button and women around the hips. These are the regions that are quickest to change with proper training.

Alarm Clock App: $5.00
The most important aspect of exercise success is consistency.  Research at the University of Michigan department of psychology has demonstrated numerous times that training in the morning leads to far better training consistency.  Get out of bed and exercise in the morning before other aspects of life have a chance to interfere with your plans.

Kitchen Scale: $50.00
Food portion awareness is essential for fat loss. Knowing the number of calories present in a portion of food is critical to reaching body composition goals.  You will never be able to exercise enough to counterbalance the effects of a poor diet.  Consistent use of a kitchen scale will educate you on portion size and calorie consumption.

Home Exercise Equipment Recommendations: $245.00
Lifeline suspension trainer $100.
Two all-purpose resistance bands $50.
Two furniture sliders $5.
Fitness Sandbag $60.  The sandbag is my new recommendation for 2017.  The cost of fitness sandbags has decreased and construction has improved.  It is now much easier to add weight to the sandbag as you become stronger.  Lifting and carrying an odd object is one of the best total body strength training activities you can perform.  You can purchase all of these products from performbetter.com–estimate $30 shipping.  Total cost is about $245.

Activity Tracker $40.00
You can download an activity app onto your smart phone.  Increasing daily step count is the easiest way to produce big fitness improvements.  Record your daily step count and work on setting new records.  Ten thousand steps a day is a good goal for most people.

Professional Assistance $600.00
Hire an educated and qualified trainer to assist you in designing and implementing a customized training program.  The number two reason people stop exercising is injury and number one is no results.  A fitness pro can steer you around both of these issues.  The trainer will teach you how to properly use the home exercise equipment you have purchased.  No one executes exercises correctly after only one training session.  You need ongoing evaluation and correction on exercise performance.  Older and physically limited individuals need the assistance of a trainer more than any other group.

Total Cost $950.00
You will have more space in your house, more money in your pocket, and you will be much more likely to succeed in reaching your fitness goals.  Two years from now you will sell that $2500.00 treadmill on ebay for $200.00.

Merry Christmas,

Mike O’Hara, P.T., O.C.S., C.S.C.S.

A $2500 Coat Rack

treadmillA past physical therapy patient of mine recently brought in a newspaper article that discussed the merits of different types exercise equipment you can purchase for your home.  She wanted my advice on the piece of machinery I would recommend for her and her husband to purchase for their home.  Should they get a $1600.00 elliptical machine, a $2500.00 treadmill, or $1100.00 recumbent bike?  My answer was that none of these machines are likely to be a good choice as most large cardio machines become an expensive coat rack in less than four months.  If you are starting out on a fitness program, my suggestion is to purchase the following:

Note Pad and Pen $10.00
In advance, you will write out your monthly “plan of exercise action”.  Set down in writing the date, time, place, and exercise activity.  The written plan is a commitment to keep on schedule.  Record your exercise sessions in a training log.  Write out the exercises you perform, the number of sets, repetitions, and loads.  Your initial successes with exercise will come in the form of better strength and work capacity—not pounds falling on the scale.  The training log will help you recognize your progress and this reinforces the exercise habit.

Tape Measure $1.00
A good exercise program is going to increase your muscle mass, hydrate your body, and add some bone to your skeleton.   In the beginning, the numbers on the scale may go up instead of down and this can frustrate many exercise newbies who are looking to “drop twenty pounds in four weeks”.  Put the bathroom scale away and record girth measurements.  Men measure around the belly button and women around the hips. These are the regions that are quickest to change with proper training.

Alarm Clock $25.00  
Research at the University of Michigan department of psychology demonstrated that individuals who are successful with long term exercise compliance get out of bed and do it in the mornings before other aspects of life have a chance to interfere with their plans.

Kitchen Scale $50.00
Ask any trainer or dietician who works with clients on body composition goals.  The general public has no food portion awareness.  Knowing the number of calories present in a portion of food is critical to reaching body composition goals.  You will never be able to exercise enough to counterbalance the effects of a poor diet.  Consistent use of a kitchen scale will educate you on portion size and total calorie consumption.

Home Exercise Equipment $200.00
One hundred dollars for a Lifeline suspension trainer.  Thirty-five dollars for a physioball.  Two sets of all-purpose resistance tubing at fifty dollars and two furniture sliders at five dollars.  You can get all of this from performbetter.com.  Shipping is about ten dollars.  My recommendation is that most people should not purchase any home fitness product that they cannot lift overhead with one hand.
Pedometer $55.00
A pedometer is a small device you wear to record the number of steps taken in a day.  Pedometers have become less expensive and more accurate.  Increasing daily step count is the easiest way to produce big changes with individuals returning to fitness activities.
Record your daily step count in your training log and work on increasing that number.  Ten thousand steps a day is a good goal for most people.

Professional Assistance $600.00
If you have been away from exercise for some time, hire an educated and qualified trainer to assist you in designing and implementing an appropriate program.  Numerous studies have shown that individuals who use trainers are more successful in reaching fitness goals.  The trainer will teach you how to properly use the home exercise equipment you have purchased.  No one performs exercises correctly after only one training session.  You need ongoing evaluation and progression on proper exercise performance.  Older and physically limited individuals need the assistance of a trainer more than any other group.

Total Cost $941.00
You will have more space in your house, more money in your pocket, and you will be much more likely to succeed in reaching your fitness goals.  Two years from now, you will sell that $2500.00 treadmill on ebay for $200.00.

Michal S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Categories